Karnataka moves SC for stay on order to release water to Tamil Nadu
Expressing the state’s inability to comply with the CWMA’s direction, Siddaramaiah wrote a letter to the Union minister for water resources Gajendra Singh Shekawat
Bengaluru: Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday announced that the state government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the directions of the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee (CWRC), seeking a stay on the directions. The directions mandated Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for an additional 15 days, starting from Thursday.
“Our deputy chief minister, DK Shivakumar, is already in New Delhi, holding meetings with the legal team. We have also submitted a petition to the Supreme Court,” he informed reporters in Bengaluru.
Expressing the state’s inability to comply with the CWMA’s (Cauvery Water Management Authority) direction, the chief minister stated that he had written a letter to the Union minister for water resources, Gajendra Singh Shekawat. In the letter, he explained the prevailing situation of water crisis in Karnataka due to a deficit in rainfall this season.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah, in a letter to Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, said that practical implementation of the directive would endanger the interests of farmers for irrigation, as well as the well-being of humans and livestock depending on the Cauvery river system for drinking water.
Highlighting the state’s compliance with previous directions issued by CWMA/CWRC, he added, “It is important to note that the majority of taluks in the Cauvery basin in Karnataka are grappling with severe drought conditions, owing to acute water stress caused by the failure of the southwest monsoon.”
The chief minister also urged the Union minister to review the decision regarding the CWMA directive, taking into consideration the water requirements of the state. He brought to the minister’s attention that the Mettur reservoir in Tamil Nadu has a live storage of 24.233 thousand million cubic(tmc) feet of water, which is sufficient to meet Tamil Nadu’s water needs.
He further informed the minister that Karnataka needs approximately 70 tmc feet of water to save its standing crops, 33 tmc feet for its drinking water needs, and an additional 3 tmc feet of water for industrial purposes. However, the state currently has only 53 tmc feet of water in its reservoirs in the Cauvery basin.
Regarding the shortage of rainfall, which was as high as 58.93% when considering the distress in the catchment up to Biligundlu, he noted, “This has increased from 53.32% on August 24 to 58.93% on September 10—a span of 17 days. The IMD [India Meteorological Department] forecast for the next two weeks paints a grim picture, indicating that the situation in the state will not improve.”
In his letter to the Union minister, Siddaramaiah brought to his attention that Tamil Nadu used 100 tmc feet of water for 92 days, from June to September this year. This amount exceeds the state’s water usage in drought-hit years such as 1987-88, 2002-03, 2012-13, 2016-17, and 2017-18. He pointed out, “Despite Karnataka having less water storage in its reservoirs in the Cauvery basin, Tamil Nadu has been cultivating paddy in vast areas.”
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced its intention to protest against the government if it continues to release water to Tamil Nadu. Former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai argued that there is a surplus of water in Tamil Nadu dams, and the government should halt water release.
“The government is releasing water without considering the matter seriously. Consequently, farmers along the Cauvery river banks and residents of Bengaluru are facing problems,” he stated. He advocated for a legal campaign and urged the government to engage with the Tamil Nadu government. However, Bommai noted that the chief minister is reluctant to communicate with Tamil Nadu chief minister Stalin. “The government should stand firm in its decision of not to release water. We will oppose the government if water continues to be released,” he added.
In response to the BJP’s call for protest, Siddaramaiah stated, “We have convened an all-party meeting and explained the situation to them, including the BJP leader. They have expressed their support as well.”